Living on the corner of Micro and Macro


I recently participated in a Twitter chat about the role of macro social workers (hosted by @karenzogda also found at This was interesting and challenged my thinking about macro social work versus micro social work.  As a clinical case manager, that line is kind of blurry. I work with my client directly but also ensure that they are receiving the services that they need. This often involves how the larger systems can assist them. I often think that I want to be part of a the larger systems such as probation or child protection. Sometimes I want to take them over completely :).

For those of you in the macro field, my hope is that you are communicating and demonstrate programs that facilitate change. Mainly to think about how you can be more preventive than reactive.   Services like the one I provide are usually accessed due to some sort of crisis such as inpatient hospitalization or losing a school program.  Although these events will still exist, some can be prevented.   I challenge the families and larger systems to think about how what we are doing right now is not working: what can be added and/or taken away to help my client? Sometimes I help school personnel or probation look at a problem differently in hopes that it might change their perspective on another youth they are working with. In this sense I feel I am a macro social worker. This intersects with the fact that I am simultaneously asking my client and their family to work on what can be done differently. That puts me at the corner of Micro and Macro social work. Change starts with the client and often ends with the systems around them. Conversly, change in a larger system can start but also end with clients.  As social workers let’s all try to occupy the same corner. I visualize a busy corner full of change agents.



One thought on “Living on the corner of Micro and Macro

  1. kwonstein

    The line between the two should be blurrier and more intersecting. In my experience too often if feels like there is a large schism between the two realms. I’m in the macro world right now, and even though most of my social work and non-profit experiences have been in the micro direct practice world, unless I constantly try to keep myself in check, it’s definitely too easy to fall into the traps of macro practice without micro considerations, which, of course, can have quite huge ramifications.


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